Tracey Thorn – Out Of The Woods (2007): Review

“Out Of The Woods” is the first solo release by the sultry Indie songbird in 25 years. Much has happened in-between, from the early 80s lounge jazz inflected Folk of early Everything But The Girl albums, to a 90s commercial resurrection in the Dance Pop charts, Thorn has little to prove. So whilst the kids are at school, and long term EBTG partner Ben Watts continues with various production duties, Tracey steps from the thoroughly normal life of a mother to deliver an album that delves into a familiar world of melancholic ballads of her early recordings, and 80s Dancefloor escapism, resulting in safe adult Pop that ticks all the right boxes for all those looking for a noughties Annie Lennox. Never hurtling headlong into any generic camp, it’s all quaintly laconic, often sweet, but rarely slips from aural anonymity. Her voice is still a smooth delight, the saddened tones as rich and warm as any of her peers, but a great vocal performance can’t always hold together a collection of music that contains few highlights.

It’s rare and brave for a mixed Pop album to open with a ballad, but “Here It Comes Again” is worthy by virtue of its stunning childlike simplicity, Thorn’s stark dual vocal, and an accompanying instrumentation and string arrangement which adds a glorious shimmer. “A-Z”, a story of small town alienation and escapism is aided by cold artificial rhythms and a towering synth melody which works more than effectively. Her cover of Arthur Russell’s “Get Around To It” is perfectly executed, with Ewan Pearson’s addictive groove and Thorn’s vocal delivering a tongue in cheek nonchalance as she croons “I get excited, you get excited” in tones that are far too cool to be excited. “It’s All True” sounds strangely way out of step with current Dance music, with prehistoric rhythms, Hi Energy synth blasts, and a repetitive synth bass line. “Easy” has a beautiful vocal melody and insistent Piano accompaniment, but it’s sadly overshadowed by an ugly belching bass synth and over mastered digital break beat. “Grand Canyon” is vapid, meandering Disco that attempts to recreate the classic “Missing” but lacks the basic tune to hold one’s attention. It would have been interesting to hear some of these songs without the aspiration to reach the Dance audience, just deliberate Pop songs, because in many cases the basics are right there.

“Out Of The Woods” will work just fine if you haven’t bought a Dance album in the last 20 years, and will conveniently fill the necessary pauses between conversation at intimate dinner parties for the over 40’s.

6/10

1 Here It Comes Again 3:06
2 A-Z 3:41
3 It’s All True 4:13
4 Get Around to It 6:00
5 Hands Up to the Ceiling 2:58
6 Easy 3:58
7 Falling Off a Log 3:17
8 Nowhere Near 3:07
9 Grand Canyon 6:07
10 By Piccadilly Station I Sat Down and Wept 2:25
11 Raise the Roof 4:02

It’s All True

Raise The Roof

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